Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase expands to 16 basketball teams

Basketball fans get another gift after Christmas when the 2016 Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase tips off at Amsterdam High School on Tuesday morning. The annual event features the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team along with several other New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 teams, as well as some of the best girls high school programs in the state. This year the tournament expands to 16 teams, up from 12 teams in previous years. The event will feature eight games on December 27th, and eight more on December 28th.

“We have some of the top teams in the state playing in the showcase this year,” Amsterdam Coach Eric Duemler said when the season began.

In fact, six of the teams in this year’s event were ranked when the New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) released its initial rankings for girls basketball on December 20th. Among them are the unbeaten Amsterdam Lady Rams coming in at the number 23 spot in Class A. Other local teams include the undefeated Lady Plainsmen on Shenendehowa High School, who are ranked fifth in Class AA, and their Suburban Council rival Columbia, ranked 8th in the top twenty five AA schools. One of the Lady Rams opponents in the event, Cicero- North Syracuse comes in ranked 19th in Class AA. The other two ranked schools are Ward-Melville (No. 24, AA), and Beekmantown (No. 12, Class B).

The 2016 Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase features plenty of local teams including three from the Foothills Council. Along with the host Lady Rams, both Gloversville and Scotia-Glenville, who are Amsterdam’s South Division rivals, will participate in the two day event. There are also four Suburban Council teams. In addition to Shenendehowa and Columbia, both Guilderland and Bethlehem will be involved in the action.

In Tuesday’s action, the Guilderland Lady Dutchmen will take on the Gloversville Lady Dragons in the first game scheduled at 9:30am. That game will be followed by Haldane (Section 1) against Syracuse Corcoran (Section 3) at 11am, Saugerties (Section 9) vs. Beekmantown (Section 7) at 12:30pm, Scotia- Glenville vs. Simsbury, Connecticut at 2pm, Kingston (Section 9) vs. Columbia at 3:30pm, the host Amsterdam Lady Rams vs. Cicero-North Syracuse (Section 3) at 5pm, Shenendehowa vs. Ward- Melville (Section 11) at 6:30pm, and finally Bethlehem vs. Liverpool (Section 3) at 8pm.

The Lady Rams first game is against the defending NYSPHSAA Section 3 Class AA champions Lady Northstars of Cicero-North Syracuse. Coached by Eric Smith, the Lady Northstars had not lost a Section 3 game since February 2014, but Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse handed them their first sectional loss in almost three years, last week with a 49-35 setback. Cicero- North Syracuse has not had a team score 50 points against them this season, and defensively allows an average 41 points per game. Offensively though, the Lady Northstars are scoring an average 39 points per game led by eighth grader Jessica Cook, who averages 12 points per game, and junior Julianna Vassalio who averages six points and ten rebounds per game. Cicero-North Syracuse comes into the showcase with a 2-2 record.

The Amsterdam Lady Rams come into the showcase with a 5-0 record including a perfect 4-0 against Foothills Council opponents. Coached by Eric Duemler, the Lady Rams are averaging 66 points per game on offense, and allowing 38 points per game on defense. The high water mark for the Lady Rams offense was a 78 point showing against Johnstown on December 15th. Amsterdam has given up 50 points or more only twice, against Johnstown, and Gloversville, but in their other three contests including a season opening win over Class AA Suburban Council’s Niskayuna, they gave up less than 35 points per game.

The Lady Rams are led by senior Nina Fedullo, the Amsterdam girls basketball all-time leading scorer who currently has 1143 points in her career, and is averaging 17 points per game this year. Junior Giuliana Pritchard has given Amsterdam another strong front court presence scoring an average of 16 points per game. Both Fedullo and Pritchard have scored in double digits in every game so far this season, and lead the Lady Rams in rebounding as well with better than 10 boards per game each. In addition to the front court threat, the Lady Rams have a pair of guards in seniors Brady Santiago and Maria Lomanto who each average nine points per game and can knock down a three point shot from anywhere on the court. The Lady Rams have yet to play a game where either Santiago or Lomanto has not hit a long range shot. Another key to the Lady Rams success lies in their passing game where several Lady Rams including senior Grace Catena, and junior point guard Lucia Liverio are dishing out multiple assists per game.

“We execute well as a team,” Giuliana Pritchard said after a recent Lady Rams win over Queensbury. “Everybody was passing, everybody was scoring. We have good chemistry as a team.”

The Lady Rams will tip off Wednesday’s action with a 9:30am start against the Lady Trojans of Simsbury (Connecticutt) High School. Coached by Sam Zullo, the Lady Trojans are from the large school Class LL Blue Division of the Central Connecticut Conference in the Connecticut Association of Schools- Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CASCIAC). Simsbury, CT comes in to the showcase with a 3-1 record, with an offense that averages 38 points per game and defense that surrenders only 37 points per game. The Lady Trojans have only given up more than 40 points once this season, to Conard High School of New Harford, CT in their only loss 53-27 in early December.

The Lady Trojans are led by seniors Kathryn Miller, who scores 10 points per game and averages nine rebounds per game, Erica Bushey, who scores nine points per game and brings down five rebounds per game, and Sarah Nelson, who scores four points per game, and averages five rebounds per game. Junior Mckenna Finken will also be a factor for the Lady Trojans averaging four points on offense and contributing seven boards per game. Miller, Nelson, and Finken are also among the Lady Trojans all time top ten career leaders in rebounds.

Syracuse Corcaran will face Saugerties in the 11am contest on Wednesday, followed by Gloversville vs. Haldane at 12:30pm, Beekmantown vs. Guilderland at 2pm, Ward- Melville vs. Bethlehem at 3:30pm, Cicero- North Syracuse vs. Columbia at 5pm, Liverpool vs. Shenendehowa at 6:30pm, and finally Scotia- Glenville vs. Kingston at 8pm.

All the games are being held at Amsterdam High School, and as it has become a tradition before the first games on Tuesday, the teams will exchange gifts.

The Amsterdam Lady Rams will continue the 2016- 2017 Foothills Council season on Thursday, January 5th with a home game against the Scotia- Glenville Lady Tartans. Three of the last four meetings between the two teams have been decided in overtime. Tip time for the varsity contest is 7pm.

Showcase News and Notes:

Among Cicero-North Syracuse alumni is Breanna Stewart, who is now playing basketball professionally in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm. Stewart is also a University of Connecticut alumni who won national titles with the Lady Huskies basketball team. Recently, Stewart gave back to her school and her team by providing funding for new uniforms and sneakers for the Lady Trojans.

The Amsterdam Lady Rams are coming off a 66-16 win over Broadalbin-Perth on Thursday night. All ten players on the Lady Rams roster scored in the victory with Janina Sjoberg scoring her first points in an AHS uniform on a lay up in the fourth quarter. Sjoberg is an international exchange student from Finland.

The Shenendehowa Lady Plainsmen are coached by Amsterdam native Joe Murphy. Shenendehowa is the defending Section 2 Class AA and NYSPHSAA regional champions. Led by Julia Ryan and Cam Tooley, the Lady Plainsmen are 6-0 coming into the showcase. Shendehowa will face its toughest challenge on January 20th when they host Suburban Council rival Columbia led by one of the school’s top scorers in Selena Lott. The Lady Blue Devils also head into the Amsterdam showcase undefeated at 5-0.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.